Advocacy Update

Forrest WallWritten by Forrest Wall, CAE, Staff Vice President and Industry Relations

Legislative Session Ends Without ESA Reform

The final days of the 2017-18 Michigan Legislative Session proved frenetic as Governor Snyder and Republicans in both legislative chambers sought passage of numerous priorities. All legislation not enacted in the 2017-18 session will need to be reintroduced in the 2019-20 session and start the process over again. Below is a recap of a few key apartment industry issues:

Emotional Support Animals – The highest priority for which AAM sought passage at the end of the session was Senate Bill 663, which would have strengthened state law to help prevent the false representation of possession of an emotional support animal. The bill passed the Michigan Senate but was ultimately not considered by the Michigan House in the final days of the session as physician groups and the Michigan Department of Civil Rights raised late opposition to certain provisions in the bill. This legislation will be reintroduced in 2019.

Rent Control Bills – The preemption of local rent control is one of the most significant legislative accomplishments in AAM’s history. Unfortunately we are forced to constantly defend this law, and this legislative session was no exception. Three bills were introduced – but not acted upon – to either repeal or allow exceptions to the act. House Bill 4456 proposed a complete repeal, while House Bills 4686 and 4687 would have allowed local units of government the ability to limit rent for disabled individuals and senior citizens while providing property tax breaks to property subject to the local controls.

Prompt Payment – Legislation requiring private construction contracts to include a clause requiring prompt payment for labor, materials and services was also successfully opposed by AAM. The bill exempted single family residential and attached residential less than 7 units, but apartment buildings over 7 units were included with other types of construction.

“Open and Obvious” Codification – Senate Bill 1017 would have provided specific statutory language supporting the “open and obvious” doctrine in Michigan relating to the liability of property owners to injuries, such as slip and falls. Currently, there is no law providing clarity on this issue as its standard came from judicial rule. While this legislation passed the Michigan Senate, it did not pass the Michigan House.

Tree Ordinances – Arising out of a well-publicized dispute in Canton, a package of bills limiting local tree ordinances for certain zoning classifications was introduced in November and hotly debated in the final days of the session. After passage by the Michigan Senate, the bill package stalled in the Michigan House.

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